I’m feeling better today. I fasted yesterday, in part to help clear out some respiratory congestion I’ve had since we got back from India a few days ago. For this particular purpose, I did a fast called the “Master Cleanse,” in which you drink a “lemonade” consisting of lemon juice, Grade B maple syrup, and a little cayenne powder, diluted with water. Occasionally Devi and I will do Paramhansa Yogananda’s marvelous Nine-Day Cleansing and Vitalizing Diet, which consists of lots of citrus, raw vegetables, a daily steamed vegetable, and a special “vitality beverage.”
I noticed during our trips to India that fasting is much more common there. We often encountered people who declined food at social gatherings, saying simply, “Today is my fast day.” Fasting is also done for religious reasons. India’s president, Narendra Modi, continued his annual nine-day “Navratri” fast even during his historic trip to America. This annual honoring of Divine Mother, and the triumph of good over evil, must have caused some head scratching during the state dinners.
It is now common medical knowledge that there are many important physical benefits to fasting. Among other things it detoxifies the cells, strengthens the immune system, controls blood sugar, and improves dietary habits. People also commonly use fasting to lose weight. The physical benefits are actually secondary, however, to the psychological and spiritual advantages.
Psychological benefits of fasting include strengthening one’s will power and resetting poor eating habits, which seem to accumulate like burrs when we walk without awareness through life’s fields. When we fast, we strongly declare, “I am in control here once again.”
But the most important reasons for fasting are spiritual. Paramhansa Yogananda recommended that we fast one day per week and three days per month. He said fasting was one way to increase our spiritual magnetism, which he defined as “the power of the soul to attract or create whatever it needs for all-around happiness and well-being.” Here are some other of his statements about the spiritual benefits of fasting:
“You, the soul, are far more than the perishable body of flesh. In fasting you discover that it is the cosmic energy, or prana, in the body that actually sustains you. Jesus pointed this out when he said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ The ‘mouth of God’ is the subtle center in the medulla through which divine life energy, the ‘Word,’ flows into the body from its cosmic source.”
“Fasting cleanses your blood and gives rest to your organs; a revitalized energy begins to flow through your eyes and hands and feet. Thus, when you are fasting you can transmit more healing energy to others when praying for them. As soon as you begin to realize you are living on cosmic energy and not on gross substances your body becomes magnetic.”
As I said, I’m feeling much better after my day of fasting, and I don’t mean only physically.